If the development of open source Scrum tools was in vogue some years ago, a lot of these projects have now been abandoned. Some are still active, but this is because their development is sponsored by a commercial hosted option. There is however an alternative to manage your Agile software development projects if you have a low budget… and a small team. Some providers of commercial Scrum tools provide a free version of their software, often with some limitations.
Tools for Scrum and Agile Project Management
Many Scrum teams are based on a distributed organization where members are in different locations, countries or time zones. How could these Agile teams perform their retrospectives? Some companies have developed online tools that can be used to facilitate retrospectives for distributed Scrum teams.
Agile approaches like Scrum recommend a “just enough” attitude in software development and this is also the case when you discuss tools. Ideally, you would work with a small team that is collocated, but this is not always possible and you might be running your project virtually with a distributed Scrum team scattered around the world.
In the context of software development, Kanban is an approach based on Lean that tries to limit waste and work in progress to the actual capacity of the software development team. The aim of Kanban is to create a context that balances capacity and demand through a value stream and promote visual project management. Thus the work is not “pushed” to developers by project managers, but “pulled” by the development team according to priorities. Kanban is the Japanese word for visual card and visualizing the current situation is very important in Kanban. If collocated teams can use simple dashboards and cards to track the work in progress, this is not the same for large or distributed Kanban teams that need to use tools.
Even if Agile approaches favor collocated teams, distributed Scrum teams are more common that what we might think. Many Agile software development teams are based on a virtual organization. This article presents some free online tools that can be used to facilitate retrospectives for distributed Scrum teams.
Redmine is a popular open source project management web application. It was written using the Ruby on Rails framework. This software is more oriented towards a traditional approach for project management with Gantt charts and calendar than Agile, Scrum or Kanban. However, Redmine architecture allows however creating plugins to add additional features. The development of a number of Agile and Lean plugins has therefore been started in these past years. However not all those plugins have been in continuous development until the current release of Redmine 3.3
Trello is a free on-line project management tool that provides a flexible and visual way to organize anything. This approach is naturally close to the visual boards used in the Scrum or Kanban approaches. As the tool as an open architecture, some extensions have been developed for a better implementation of Agile project management in Trello and provides additional features like Scrum burndown charts.